Mixed uses to preserve old Kresge five-and-dime

The Baltimore Sun

A longtime merchant and property owner on Baltimore's west side plans to transform the former Kresge building on West Lexington Street and other properties into an $8 million mixed-use project anchored by a Valu Plus discount store.

Baltimore Development Corp. said yesterday that it is awarding two city-owned properties in the superblock revitalization area to Carmel Realty Associates for redevelopment. Carmel will combine those properties, 109 W. Lexington St. and a vacant building at 119 Park Ave., with the three-story former Kresge's five-and-dime store at Lexington and Park, which Carmel owns.

Carmel is proposing 64,000 square feet of housing and shops, with lower-level and street-level retail and 30 efficiency and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Carmel, the owner of Valu Plus in the 200 block of W. Lexington, will relocate the apparel and general merchandise store in the new development. Officials of the Philadelphia-based retail chain could not be reached yesterday.

M.J. "Jay" Brodie, BDC president, said the city chose Carmel's proposal for one of the most visible corners on the west side because it preserves the historic former S.S. Kresge Co. building in a mixed-use development. He said the recession was not expected to slow plans for the development.

"This is a pivotal corner, Lexington and Park," Brodie said. He said the 1930s-era Art Deco building had been a Kresge and later housed other stores.

Carmel Realty had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenged the city's right to choose a developer for the part of the superblock that includes 223-227 W. Lexington St., Valu Plus' current location.

As part of the settlement, Carmel agreed to move to the former Kresge building and agreed not to contest the city's acquisition of the Valu Plus store site. That 200 block of W. Lexington is being developed by Lexington Square Partners in a $150 million project with an apartment tower, hotel and shops.

In August, the BDC had requested bids from developers for a group of properties outside Lexington Square's project area, on the south side of West Lexington, between Park Avenue and Liberty Street.

The BDC said it received one other proposal besides Carmel's for 109 W. Lexington and 119 Park. The city, planning to sell those properties to Carmel, will begin negotiations with the developer and hopes work on the project can start by the end of the year, Brodie said.

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